Since his arrival from Marseille in 2012, César Azpilicueta or ‘Dave’ as the fans like to call him, has almost always played in a full back position, mostly on the left. This season started off in the same manner with the Spaniard playing as a left-back, and Branislav Ivanovic on the right. Since Conte’s switch of formation to a 3-4-3 though, he been playing as a right centre back and the position seems to suit him perfectly.
Azpilicueta had been a solid left back for the Blues, playing there for the past couple of seasons. Although in saying that, many people, including myself, felt that he was being played out of position and he was much more suited to playing on the right as he is right footed. Since the formation switch, he has played as a right centre back in a back three. His performances have dramatically improved and I personally believe that he is Chelsea’s fourth best player behind ‘the big three’ (Costa, Hazard and Kanté).
For me, the RCB of a back three suits Azpilicueta even better than the right back position fans have been crying out for him to play. The 27-year-old’s playing style is kind of half way between a ‘classic’ centre back, and a ‘classic’ right back. He is faster than the average centre back, and a better tackler than a standard right back which is why this role suits him perfectly. Although I feel he is a pretty good right back, his technical and physical attributes don’t quite suit that of a ‘modern day’ full back. In my eyes, the ideal full back would be quick and can take a player on, and be very solid defensively. Someone like Kyle Walker of Tottenham or Ryan Bertrand of Southampton are the types of players that sum up the modern day full-back.
As he has experience of playing as a full back, Azpilicueta offers a lot going forward for Chelsea compared to your average centre half. Playing next to the more defensive Gary Cahill and David Luiz, Azpilicueta is by far the most attacking of the three. The Spaniard got assist last weekend with a perfectly weighted cross that found the head of inform striker Diego Costa. Chelsea’s next fixture will be against Stoke City on New Year’s Eve at Stamford Bridge. If the Blues are to make it thirteen wins in a row, he will be vital for Chelsea.